18 december 2023

Distinguishing True from False Content and Its Proxies

1) There's information that you like, and there's information that you dislike.

2) There's human-generated content, and there's bot-generated content.

3) And then there's true information, and there's false information.

The problem with regulations to fight disinformation such as the Digital Services Act (DSA), is that the first distinction is easy to make, the second distinction much harder, and the third distinction practically impossible (except for in the most trivial cases).

The inevitable failure to make the third and second distinctions will mean that the first one will be used as an all too convenient proxy. As we are predictably seeing today with the DSA.

And that's the beginning of the end of democracy as we know it.

Although the DSA addresses a real need, and although it has many merits as well (e.g. the provisions to protect minors, and the provisions regarding transparency even though they still fall short), I am convinced that its handling of systemic risks is a mistake and should be undone.

The European Commission has created the DSA to tackle "systemic risks". In doing so, it may have created the greatest systemic risk of all.

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